Collection image

National Museum of Natural History Species of the Day Collection

Last updated over 1 year ago

This Collection contains a complete archive of all creatures featured on the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History's "Species of the Day" feature on its home page ( since 20 April 2010. The sort field contains the month and day of the last time a creature was shown. Those shown more than a year ago have '999' in the sort field.

To nominate a species, please leave us a comment in the Newsfeed with your suggestion, including why you think it would make a great Species of the Day! If you can paste a link to the species you are interested in, that would also be helpful.

  • 56443_88_88

    Cerceris fumipennis

    Cerceris fumipennis is a solitary ground-nesting wasp that captures and stores buprestid wood-boring beetles as food for its young; this wasp has been used in innovative “biosurveillance” efforts to detect early invasions of the Emerald Ash Borer.

    Sort value: 999

  • 60329_88_88

    Ceratophrys ornata

    Ornate Horned Frog

    These frogs are sit-and-wait predators, partially concealing themselves in the leaves of the forest floor and remaining motionless most of the time; when prey approaches, the animal quickly attacks, usually swallowing the prey (mainly vertebrates) whole.

    Sort value: 12.16

  • 10983_88_88

    Centurio senex

    Wrinkle-faced Bat

    The scientific name of the Wrinkle-faced Bat is a reference to its resemblance to a “hundred-year-old person”.

    Sort value: 999

  • 96889_88_88

    Centriscus scutatus

    Grooved Razorfish

    Razorfishes are usually encountered in aggregations swimming vertically with heads pointed downward; they feed mainly on crustaceans.

    Sort value: 07.02

  • 80630_88_88

    Cavia porcellus


    Although the exact origin of the domesticated guinea pig (or cavy) is uncertain, it has apparently been bred for meat in South America (where close wild relatives still live today) for several thousand years.

    Sort value: 999

  • 04879_88_88


    Cattleya Orchids

    As is the case for many epiphytic orchids, each Cattleya flower stalk originates from a specialized storage organ known as a pseudobulb.

    Sort value: 999

  • 17594_88_88

    Cassis tuberosa

    King Helmet

    This large sea snail is common in the West Indies.

    Sort value: 999

  • 87696_88_88


    Upside-down Jellyfish

    The upside-down (or mangrove) jellyfish, Cassiopea, is a large jellyfish that is seldom seen swimming, instead spending much of its time flipped upside down, pulsating, on sandy or muddy substrates in mangrove or soft bottom bay habitats.

    Sort value: 999

  • 12564_88_88

    Carybdea sivickisi

    Box Jellyfish

    To a human observer, the mating behavior of this box jellyfish resembles an intimate dance.

    Sort value: 11.07

  • 58592_88_88

    Carassius auratus


    The Goldfish was domesticated around 1000 years ago in China as both an ornamental and food fish.

    Sort value: 999

  • 12564_88_88


    Skeleton Shrimps

    Amphipod crustaceans in the family Caprellidae are often known as "skeleton shrimps", a name derived from their elongated stick-like body form.

    Sort value: 03.21

  • 97448_88_88

    Capra ibex

    Alpine Ibex

    This species was on the verge of extinction in the 1800s, but a protected population remained in northern Italy and animals from this population were used to re-establish the species in the Alps of Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, and France.

    Sort value: 10.09

  • 56100_88_88

    Canis simensis

    Ethiopian Wolf

    The Ethiopian Wolf is endemic to the Ethiopian highlands, where its future is threatened by a variety of factors, including, especially, habitat loss.

    Sort value: 999

  • 51544_88_88

    Camptorhynchus labradorius

    Labrador Duck

    This sea duck, formerly found along the coast of the western North Atlantic, may never have been abundant and disappeared entirely in the late 19th century.

    Sort value: 01.09

  • 92017_88_88

    Camponotus pennsylvanicus

    Black Carpenter Ant

    Black Carpenter Ants chew tunnels and galleries in wood to house their colonies, becoming a problem for humans when they colonize human structures rather than old trees.

    Sort value: 999

  • 91093_88_88

    Campephilus principalis

    Ivory-billed Woodpecker

    Despite renewed hope early in this century that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker might not be extinct (based on reported observations of this species in 2004 in Arkansas and subsequent reports from Florida), there is a growing, and sad, consensus in recent years that the Ivory-bill is in fact gone forever.

    Sort value: 01.04

  • 65125_88_88

    Cameraria ohridella

    Chestnut Leafminer

    This invasive moth, the larvae of which mine the leaves of Horse Chestnut trees, was discovered only as it began its rapid expansion through Europe; its geographic origin and original host remain uncertain.

    Sort value: 999

  • 28819_88_88

    Camellia sinensis

    Chinese Tea

    Green tea, oolong tea, and black tea are all prepared from this species.

    Sort value: 09.25

  • 29537_88_88


    Vampire Moths

    Some species of the moth genus Calyptra are known to pierce mammalian flesh to feed on blood.

    Sort value: 999

  • 37340_88_88

    Callulina kisiwamsitu

    Mazumbai Warty Frog

    The scientific name of this frog is derived from the Swahili “kisiwa” (island) and “msitu” (forest) and refers to the habitat of this species, which is now just a remnant of the forest that once covered the West Usambara Mountains in Tanzania.

    Sort value: 999

  • 59907_88_88

    Callinectes sapidus

    Blue Crab

    The Blue Crab is a commercially important species and is popular with recreational crabbers as well.

    Sort value: 999

  • 71370_88_88

    Cajanus cajan

    Pigeon Pea

    Pigeon Pea is a drought-tolerant legume grown mainly in the semi-arid tropics, especially in India.

    Sort value: 08.20

  • 21811_88_88

    Caerostris darwini

    Darwin's Bark Spider

    The recently discovered Darwin's Bark Spider of Madagascar spins an enormous web over bodies of water such as rivers and streams with anchor lines that can span up to 25 meters.

    Sort value: 999

  • 36381_88_88

    Caenorhabditis elegans

    Caenorhabditis elegans (or "C. elegans" to those busy researchers and others without time in their day for so many syllables) is one of the most widely and thoroughly studied laboratory organisms in the fields of genetics, cell biology, development, aging, evolution, and neuroscience; in 1998, it became the first animal to have its entire genome sequence determined and it remains at the forefront of functional genomics.

    Sort value: 09.17

  • 55080_88_88

    Brassica napus

    Rapeseeds, Oilseed Rape (german: Raps)

    This species is the source of canola oil and rutabagas.

    Sort value: 10.26

  • 73619_88_88



    Lancelets are invertebrates in the phylum Chordata and hence close relatives of vertebrate chordates such as humans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 96131_88_88


    Three-toed Sloths

    This genus includes the four species of three-toed sloths, including a pygmy species found exclusively in Red Mangroves on a small Caribbean island off Panama.

    Sort value: 11.28

  • 13053_88_88


    Lamp Shells

    The rich fossil history of brachiopods makes this group of particular interest to paleontologists.

    Sort value: 999

  • 50512_88_88

    Bombus affinis

    Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

    The Rusty-patched Bumblebee was at one time among the most common bumblebee species in the eastern United States, but in recent years it has experienced a dramatic decline in numbers.

    Sort value: 999

  • 69954_88_88

    Bolitoglossa alvaradoi

    Alvarado's Salamander

    Alvarado's Salamander is a rarely seen arboreal nocturnal salamander presumed to live in forest canopies where it makes use of bromeliad microhabitats; it is known only from several fragmented populations on the Atlantic slopes of Costa Rica in moist or wet lowland forests and premontane rainforests at elevations ranging from 700 to 1,150 m (2300 to 3750 ft).

    Sort value: 08.29

  • 49777_88_88

    Blighia sapida


    Akee is native to West Africa, but was apparently brought to the West Indies by Captain William Bligh (who is better known for his attempts to export Breadfruit from Tahiti).

    Sort value: 11.17

  • 86181_88_88

    Blarina brevicauda

    Mole Shrew

    Among the many interesting features of this shrew species is its poisonous saliva, which allows it to kill mice and larger prey and to paralyze invertebrates such as snails and store them alive for later consumption.

    Sort value: 03.18

  • 20146_88_88

    Bidens macroptera

    Adey Abeba

    In Ethiopia, Bidens macroptera is a symbol of peace, hope, and love. It is often displayed on the Ethiopian New Year, which usually falls on September 11, and is today's Species of the Day in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of one of the saddest days in U.S. history.

    Sort value: 999

  • 24501_88_88

    Bayerotrochus midas

    King Midas's Slit Shell

    This snail was described by the late Smithsonian Curator F.M. Bayer, whose birthday is today (Halloween).

    Sort value: 999

  • 36022_88_88

    Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Longcore, Pessier & D. K. Nich...

    Amphibian Chytrid

    This fungus is believed to play a key role in the recent (and ongoing) global amphibian extinction crisis.

    Sort value: 999

  • 95263_88_88


    Deep-sea Mussels

    Bathymodiolus mussels are among the dominant macro-organisms in chemosynthesis-based communities around hydrothermal vents and cold-water seeps in the deep sea

    Sort value: 03.16

  • 86914_88_88

    Balanus glandula

    Acorn Barnacle

    The acorn barnacle is among the most abundant animals found along the rocky coastline of western North America; although at one time barnacles were mistakenly believed to be molluscs, in fact they are crustacean arthropods.

    Sort value: 11.08

  • 58755_88_88

    Balaena mysticetus

    Bowhead Whale

    Populations of this Arctic whale were devastated by hunting, but the species appears to be recovering fairly well following the cessation of commercial whaling.

    Sort value: 999

  • 32144_88_88

    Bactrocera dorsalis

    Oriental Fruit Fly

    A native of Asia, this major tropical and subtropical agricultural pest now threatens a wide range of fruit crops in dozens of countries around the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 09514_88_88

    Aureophycus aleuticus

    This kelp species from the Aleutian Islands was only described in 2008.

    Sort value: 999

  • 21708_88_88

    Atelopus zeteki

    Panamanian Golden Frog

    The Panamanian Golden Frog, Panama's national animal, has experienced population declines of more than 80% during the first decade of the 21st century.

    Sort value: 999

  • 96677_88_88


    Harlequin Frogs

    Many harlequin frog species have suffered extreme population declines or extinction in recent years, with the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which has devastated many amphibian populations, presumably playing a major role.

    Sort value: 12.06

  • 54754_88_88

    Astrotoma agassizii

    Recent studies suggest that this brittle star of the Southern Ocean may actually represent a complex of two or more cryptic species with different developmental modes.

    Sort value: 999

  • 48216_88_88

    Asimina triloba


    The Pawpaw is a northern temperate representative of a primarily tropical plant family, the Annonaceae.

    Sort value: 999

  • 32697_88_88

    Artocarpus heterophyllus


    The fruit of this tree, a relative of the Breadfruit, is the largest treefruit known.

    Sort value: 999

  • 67013_88_88

    Armillaria ostoyae

    Dark Honey Fungus

    This fungus is one of the leading contenders for "largest organism in the world"—at least as measured in hectares or acres.

    Sort value: 999

  • 95862_88_88

    Areca catechu

    Areca Palm

    The seed of this palm ("areca nut") ranks among the most important stimulant products in the world, used by around 200 to 600 million people globally.

    Sort value: 10.01

  • 11895_88_88

    Arctica islandica

    Icelandic Cyprine

    Individual Ocean Quahogs may live for hundreds of years.

    Sort value: 999

  • 91935_88_88

    Aralia spinosa

    Devils Walkingstick

    The Devil's Walkingstick is named for the sharp spines that cover much of the plant; native to eastern North America, it is easily confused with the Asian Aralia elata, which is rapidly becoming a problem in the eastern U.S. as an invasive species.

    Sort value: 03.31

  • 45844_88_88

    Arachis hypogaea


    This species originated and was domesticated in South and Central America 3,500 years ago and is now grown in tropical and warm-temperate regions worldwide for its seeds and the oil extracted from them; the peanut "shells" are actually the underground seed-containing pods of this legume.

    Sort value: 10.17